Please DON’T Have a Happy Pearl Harbor Day

Somehow Pearl Harbor Day always gets me. A few years ago, I was hosting a radio show and the producer or someone told me to mention it’s Pearl Harbor Day. So I said over the air, “Happy Pearl Harbor Day!”

The angry calls immediately came into the station. Pearl Harbor Day is a solemn occasion, they said, and why is this moron telling us to be happy! KPBS management went into damage control and eventually it all died down. Until yesterday.

Again, I was hosting a talk show and, again, the producer said I should mention the occasion. “Happy Pearl Harbor Day,” I said. The process repeated itself. Angry calls. Damage control. Stoney looks from station managers.

I thought the first event was just a couple of years ago, but it must have been longer past. Otherwise, the request to “mention Pearl Harbor Day” would have set off at least a faint alarm bell.

So what’s my problem with Pearl Harbor Day? I guess I’m just not sure what to say to people about it. I’m not in the habit of offering people a Pearl Harbor Day salutation. If it’s New Year’s Day or Christmas, that’s easy. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

But Pearl Harbor Day? Do I wish people a somber Pearl Harbor Day or a ponderous Pearl Harbor Day? I suppose the thing to do is just say, “It’s Pearl Harbor Day,” and leave it at that. But the pressure of preparing for a live show didn’t give me time to imagine a proper reference.

I wrote an apology to listeners, which I’ve copied below. These days I rarely do live broadcasts, and I don’t know why they always seem to land on Pearl Harbor Day. With some luck, that coincidence will not be repeated.

“On Friday I appeared on KPBS Radio’s Midday program. It was Pearl Harbor Day and I wished people a ‘Happy Pearl Harbor Day.’ My intentions were good but it was a poor choice of words. The attack on Pearl Harbor was shocking and tragic, and its anniversary is not a time to invite people to be joyful. As the son of a WW II Navy veteran, I’m sorry if any of you were offended.”

-Tom Fudge

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